Don't put off those boat projects

By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
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Assuming we get some more rain before it’s all said and done (looking more and more like a big assumption with every passing day), we should have some pretty good water conditions this year. That pleasant thought, combined with all this sunshine we’ve been having lately, has gotten me daydreaming about spring and summer boating season! One of the things I always say I’m going to do — and then rarely follow through with — is spend some quality time with my boat in the winter months, getting her all ready for the upcoming season. You know, lock myself in the garage for a few days when the weather’s ugly and the fishing’s slow. Again, that may not necessarily be the case this weekend, but I’m sure there will be a perfect few days for boat maintenance in the upcoming months. The basics The first thing I like to do (again, in theory as I typically am running around, doing all this stuff at the last second) is to take care of all those pesky things that were bugging me at the end of last season. You know — the burned out bilge pump; the port running light with the broken bulb; the loose deck screws and the trailer lights. Oh, those *#%@ trailer lights! On second thought, don’t fix ‘em because they’re just going to stop working the second day you use the boat anyway (kidding, of course… at least about the “don’t fix them” part). In case you can’t tell, I loathe trailer lights… but I better stop now or I’ll be ranting for hours! Bigger fish to fry Anyway, after all the little nit-noid stuff is fixed, it’s time to move onto bigger projects. If you didn’t do it before you put the boat away last season, change the fluids on the motor(s) and grease and re-pack your trailer wheel bearings. Check all the electrical connections and hit any vulnerable areas with Corrosion-X. Also be sure that your battery’s on a trickle charger so that the thing will actually start that first morning on the boat ramp this spring. You don’t want to be that guy! The cool stuff Now that you’ve done all the boring but necessary stuff to keep the boat in good condition, it’s time to start on some of those “pimp my boat” type projects. One of the best things I ever did was add a wash-down system to my vessel. It’s a relatively simple project that you can do for just over $100 — and it makes life so much easier. At the end of the day, just bust out the hose and high-pressure nozzle and give the boat a good bath before you trailer home. If you’re like me, it’s sometimes (read: usually) hard to get motivated to go out and give the boat a scrubbing after fishing all day in the sun and then maybe driving home an hour or two. Doing it before you leave is such a better program — plus, there’s less time for all the dried up bait, fish slime and spilled food and drinks to get baked on to your floors, seats and gunwales. Another brilliant concept that you may want to consider is adding a set of misters to the interior of your boat. If you’re already got a livewell or wash-down pump installed, it’s pretty simple to run some rubber hose to a few strategically placed mister heads. On a hot summer day, the addition of some cool water billowing down on you can make all the difference in the world! I really like windshield boats with a canvas top for this since you can mount the jets overhead, but they also work on tiller-style boats — you just have to angle the sprinklers so they point up. Anyway, just a few things to chew on and maybe get motivated to do when and if the weather heads south on us again. For local fishing reports, techniques and more, check me out on the web at